What Is a Multicultural Organization?

A multicultural organization has a workforce that includes people from diverse backgrounds in all departments and offers them equal opportunity for input and advancement within the company.

A multicultural organization also displays an absence of discrimination and prejudice towards people of any race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, or physical limitation.

In a multicultural organization, skill, talent, and performance are the criteria for advancement.

Understanding Multicultural Organizations

A multicultural organization recognizes that the contributions of its employees include perspectives based on culture, gender, and other unique characteristics.

Key Takeaways

  • A multicultural organization hires people from diverse backgrounds and offers them equal opportunity for input and advancement.
  • The trend is consistent with demographic changes in economically developed western countries.
  • Accenture PLC, Novartis AG, and Medtronic PLC are the world's most inclusive and diverse companies, according to the Thomson Reuters D&I Index.

Few companies in our times want to make their products or services available only to one narrow slice of the population. A multicultural workforce helps them create products that meet the needs and expectations of a broader population.

An emphasis on diversity also may attract a better talent pool. In a survey by Glassdoor.com, fully 67% of job-seekers said that a diverse workforce was an important factor in their decision to accept or reject a job offer.

Moreover, a multicultural workforce is seen as essential for any business considering going global. "As national politics and discourse seem to grow more inward-looking and divisive across America and Europe, successful businesses must continue to think inclusively and globally," notes a blog for Hult International Business School. "Embracing cultural diversity in the workplace is an important first step for businesses that want to be competitive on an international scale."

World's Most Multicultural Companies

In fact, some of the biggest companies in the world are now at the top of the multicultural movement.

Sixty-seven percent of job seekers say that company diversity is an important factor in their decision to accept or reject a job offer.

The Thomson-Reuters D&I Index, an annual ranking of the world's most diverse and inclusive companies, lists Accenture PLC, Novartis AG, and Medtronic PLC as its top three for 2018. Others at the top of the list include Diageo PLD, Gap Inc., Telecom Italia SpA, Kering SA, Natura Cosmeticos SA, L'Oreal SA, Acciona SA, and Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co.

Notably, Thomson-Reuters produces the index for use by professional investors. "The industry is beginning to recognize the societal and business benefits of investing in diverse and inclusive companies, and we are working closely with various investment firms who are looking to develop investable products based on our D&I Index," said Elena Philipova, a Thomas Reuters executive.

Special Considerations

The trend toward creating more diverse workplaces is consistent with demographic changes in economically developed western countries.

In the United States, the population has become far more racially and ethnically diverse over the past two decades. According to the latest U.S. Census data, only 60.7 percent of the population identifies as both white and non-Hispanic. More than 20% speak a language other than English at home.